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Learning Styles Essay Research Paper Throughout our

Learning Styles Essay, Research Paper Throughout our lives, we are faced with many different learning experiences. Some of these experiences have made a better impact than others. We can

Learning Styles Essay, Research Paper

Throughout our lives, we are faced with many different learning experiences.

Some of these experiences have made a better impact than others. We can

attribute this to our learning style. A person?s learning style is the method

through which they gain information about their environment. Research is going

on all over the world to help explain learning styles. As teachers, it is our

responsibility to learn about these different learning styles so that we can

appeal to every type of learner in our classrooms. Howard Gardner has elaborated

on the concept of learning style through what he calls ?multiple

intelligence?s? (Gardner 3). Understanding these intelligence?s will help

us to design our classrooms and curriculum in a way that will appeal to all of

our students. We may even be able to curb negative behavior by reaching students

in a different way. If we implement activities that call upon the use of all

these ?intelligence?s? (Gardner 2) we will get the best out of all of our

students (Santrock 311). Their grades will improve and they will retain more

information for a longer period of time. Learning styles can also help us to

determine possible career paths so that we can help to steer children in the

right direction. Discovering our own learning styles can potentially maximize

our own information processing and teaching techniques. Howard Gardner is a

professor at Harvard who has studied the idea of intelligence in a way that

links research and personal experience (Traub 1). He began speaking about

?multiple intelligence?s? in 1983. Since then, he has won a MacArthur

?genius? grant, he has written books which have been translated into twenty

languages, and he gives about seventy-five speeches a year (Truab 1). His ideas

have been backed and popularized by many groups seeking to reform the current

educational system. The idea is that we know a child who scores well on tests is

smart, but that doesn?t mean a child who does not score well is not getting

the information or is incapable of getting it (Traub1). Gardner?s goal is to

turn what we normally think of as intelligence into a mere aspect of a much

wider range of aptitudes (Traub 1). Most of us believe that doing well in school

requires a certain amount of intelligence. School work usually focuses on only

two avenues of intelligence. Traditional teaching focuses on verbal and

mathematical skills. A person who is weak in both of these will probably do

poorly in school. Gardner suggests that their is eight different aptitudes or

?intelligence?s? (Gardner 3). Each individual has the ?eight

intelligence?s? in various amounts. Our strengths and weaknesses in the

?intelligence?s? influence how we learn (Gardner 5). They may even affect

how successful we are in life. ?Verbal- linguistic? is the first of

Gardner?s proposed ?intelligence?s? (Gardner). A linguistic learner

thinks in words. This person uses language to express and understand meaning

(Gardner 24) Linguistic learners are sensitive to the meaning of words, their

order, and their inflection (Gardner 24) This type of person uses writing to

express themselves, often through poetry, stories, and letters. ?Verbal

linguistic? (Gardner 24) learners are usually very skilled readers. Speaking

is another strength that they possess. Oral communication is used often for

persuasion and memorization (Gardner 133). They are often eloquent speakers and

have wonderfully developed auditory skills. This type of intelligence tends to

pick up foreign languages with ease. Identifying a ?verbal linguistic?

(Gardner 24) learner in your classroom is not difficult. Because of their

talents at expressing themselves their class work will stand out. They tend to

do well at expressing themselves through writing. The will often speak their

mind and can easily explain an event that happened through words, both speaking

and writing. Planning lessons that appeal to the ?verbal linguistic?

(Gardner 24) learner is very easy. The traditional curriculum appeals best to

this kind of learner. They are very good at reading and writing which is already

the main method of teaching in most classrooms. Some activities that appeal to

this kind of learner are storytelling, writing essays, joking, debating, story

problems, and crossword searches. These activities will allow the student to use

words to learn material and express what they have learned through words. The

?visual spatial intelligence? has the ability to think in pictures (Gardner

65). They perceive the visual world accurately and are able to think in three

dimensional terms. According to Gardner visual learners can easily recreate

something that they have seen (Gardner 67). Art is usually a strong area for a

student who learns this way. Constructing things is another activity that come

easily to this type of learner. They have a knack for turning ideas into

concrete examples (Gardner 67). An example of this type of student is some one

who can bring an architectural design from their minds to paper and then into a

model. A person strong in this type of ?intelligence? (Gardner 133) has a

keen awareness between space and objects. The student who learns best visually

will most often sit near the front of the class. They need to see the

teacher?s body language and facial expressions to fully understand the content

of a lesson. This type of learner learns best from visual display. Diagrams,

illustrated text books, videos, flipcharts, and handouts are crucial to the

learning of this type of ?intelligence? (Gardner 24) . Activities that this

type of learner will excel at include: creating collages and posters,

storyboarding, painting, and photographing. People who are strong in the

?visual spatial?(Gardner 17) type of intelligence are indispensable when it

comes to professions. We rely on them to be aware of the big picture with the

knowledge that each element relies on another. They seem to have an instinctual

awareness of what is going on around them and are wonderful navigators,

mechanics, engineers, architects, interior designers, and inventors. ?Body

kinesthetic? (Gardner 88) learners have the ability to control body movements

and handle objects skillfully (Gardner 88). These learners express themselves

through movement. They have a good sense of balance and hand eye coordination.

Interacting with the space around them is the way that the ?body

kinesthetic?(Gardner 144) learner processes information. This learning style

involves a sense of timing and coordination. Michael Jordan, for example would

most likely have a well developed ?body kinesthetic intelligence? (Gardner

144). His ability to move quickly across a basketball court, while dribbling a

ball, with a roaring crowd, while processing the whereabouts of five opponents

and four teammates shows that there is a specific intelligence in his movement

and perception of the basketball court?s layout (Santrock 292). The ?body

kinesthetic? (Gardner 2) learner can often be a handful in the classroom. As a

student it may be difficult for this person to sit still. This learner will do

best if they are able to work while moving around or standing. This type of

learner will do well with activities that involve acting out skits, directing

movement, and playing charades. They will often excel in physical education and

delight at becoming involved with sports. ?Logical mathematical

intelligence?(Gardner 6) is another intelligence that is already heavily

implemented in our current school system. It involves the ability to use

numbers, logic, and reason . These learners think conceptually, in logic and

number patterns (Gardner 112). They are often able to perform complex

mathematical problems. This type of intelligence involves deductive and

inductive reasoning skills, as well as critical and creative problem solving

(Gardner 122). Children who use logic and mathematics as a primary way of

learning tend to be obvious in the classroom. This child will ask a lot of

questions and enjoys doing experiments. They will often excel in mathematics and

science. Finding ways to help this person succeed in language arts and social

studies can often be a challenge. This person will do well if we help them to

focus on categorizing information. Grouping concepts together and then finding a

relationship between them will help this type of intelligence to understand

concepts not related to math or science. Helping a child master these techniques

will no doubt help them tackle issues in their everyday life. ?Musical

Rhythmic? (Gardner 121) learners have the ability to produce and appreciate

music. These musically inclined learners think in rhythms, sounds, and patterns.

They immediately respond to music either appreciating or criticizing what they

hear. Many of these learners are extremely sensitive to environmental sounds

such as; crickets, dripping, bells, and trains (Santrock 345). They are also

very sensitive to patterns and pitch in sound. ?Musical rhythmic? (Garnder

121) learners are able to recognize, create, and recreate sound using their

voice or instruments (Gardner 125). An understanding of the connection between

music and emotions is prevalent in these types of learners (Gardner 125).

Identifying a person who is a musical learner can be tricky. They often play an

instrument and are involved in some kind of extracurricular activity involving

music. This type of learner will recreate a sound by tapping on their desk or

humming the tune. Accommodating this type of leaner in the classroom can be

challenging for teachers. This person will benefit from being able to bring

music in to their lessons. Their homework may include writing songs about

periods of history and literary events. Musical learners may need to create

songs in order to memorize operations and sequences. They should be encouraged

to make up songs to help them memorize things like planets and mathematical

formulas. Gardner is especially interested in the ?musical intelligence? (Santrock

354). Gardner himself had been a serious pianist and a composition student (Traub

2). His interests in the ?musical intelligence? (Gardner 121) particularly

focused on childhood (Santrock 354). Preschool children have the ability to

learn musical patterns easily, and they rarely forget them. (Gardner 77). He

points out that many adults can still remember tunes from when they were very

young. (Gardner 78). ?Intrapersonal intelligence? (Gardner 129) are learners

who are very introverted. They are aware of their own strengths and weaknesses.

These types of learners use self knowledge to guide decision making (Gardner

129). They have the ability to monitor one?s self in interpersonal

relationships and act with ?personal efficacy? (Gardner 128). They are aware

of their feelings and are able to regulate their moods and emotional responses.

(Gardner 110). I believe that I have a strong ?intrapersonal intelligence?

(Gardner 129). I have always been a very quiet person, but only on the outside.

There is a whole lot of things going on inside my head. I plan my actions ahead

of time, then act them out the way that I had planned. Being intrapersonal, I

have always been very selfish in a way. When I think of an struggle or issue I

always decide what I would do, rather than put myself in someone else?s shoes.

Having discovered this side of me I try to be more conscious of it and not let

it rule my personality. A student who is an ?intrapersonal learner? in the

classroom will often keep to themselves. (Gardner). They will enjoy thinking and

meditating on ideas. These types of people are planners. Activities that will

stimulate this type of intelligence include journal writing, fiction writing,

and self assessments. They are very comfortable with their own feelings on

subjects and think things out very thoroughly. ?Interpersonal or social

intelligence? (Gardner 138) identifies themselves through their relationship

with other people (Gardner 138). These people see things from other people?s

point of view in order to understand how they think and feel (Santrock 293).

They often have the ability to sense feelings, intentions, and motivations.

Organization is a key strength, although they sometimes resort to manipulation

in order to make things run smoothly. This type of ?intelligence? (Gardner

139) is a born group leader and encourages cooperation. Their strengths lie in

both verbal and non-verbal language to open communication channels with people.

(Gardner 139). This type of person is often a great listener and practices

empathy for other people. The ?interpersonal learners? (Gardner 140) are the

leaders of the classroom. Problem solving is an attribute that will come in

handy when communicating with your classroom. These learners are able to

understand your role as the teacher as well as the plights of the students. They

will do best working in groups or with partners. Activities such as reporting,

interviewing, teaching, and choreographing are things that the interpersonal

learner will excel in. The ?interpersonal? (Gardner 140) person will do best

with careers that involve working with people. They are easily able to empathize

with situations and find the best solutions to problems. They are also

manipulators who can persuade people in a different ways. Their skills in

communicating and understanding needs and motivation of people help them to

become wonderful teachers, counselors, salespeople, politicians, and

businessmen. The ?naturalist? (Gardner 150) is the eighth and newest

declared learning style. The ?naturalist? (Gardner 150) has an understanding

of the natural world. This person?s interest and understanding lies in plants,

animals, and scientific studies (Gardner 155). They are able to recognize and

classify individuals, species, and ecological relationships (Gardner 155).

Interacting with living creatures comes easily to the naturalist. Gardner says

that these types of learners have a certain skill for understanding animal

behavior, their needs, and characteristics. The ?naturalist intelligence?

(Gardner 156) will tend to have a green thumb and are able to grow plants with

ease. In the classroom the ?naturalist learner? (Gardner 156) will often be

an observer. They will enjoy field trips to places like the zoo and to farms.

They will often have collections of insects and rocks which they could share

with the class. They will benefit from activities such as collecting leaves,

growing plants, doing experiments, and participating in field studies. Cooking

and home economic related activities can also be a strength for the

?naturalist? (Gardner 156). One of the first interventions that can be used

by the classroom teacher to accommodate individual learning style of students is

changes in the classroom design. Many classrooms are formal in design with all

students facing front…in rows…in desks. For the students whose preference is

informal this often is a hindrance to learning. Offering optional seating in

groups, pairs, and on couches can accommodate individual learning preferences

and increase student success. Gardner believes that each of the intelligence?s

can be destroyed by brain damage. According to Traub?s article, Gardner

studied brain damaged patients at Boston?s Veterans Administration Hospital

(Traub2). He found that patients who had profound damage to a main intellectual

function, leaving them barely able to speak, could still recognize a metaphor or

even tell a joke (Traub 2). I recently saw a news segment on the actor Dudley

Moore who has a disease that is deteriorating his brain. He reported that he can

no longer play the piano: ?I can not bring the sounds from my head out through

the piano? (ABC News). This is perhaps an example of how brain damage or

neurological diseases can affect intelligence. Each of the intelligence?s

involve unique cognitive skills and shows up in exaggerated fashion in both the

gifted and idiot savants (Gardner 168). Studies are being done concerning autism

and learning styles. It appears that people with autism are more likely to rely

on only one style of learning. Having worked with autistic children, I am able

to say that each autistic child has his or her own way of interacting with the

world. This can easily be translated into their primary learning style and can

be very helpful for those who work with autistic children. By observing the

autistic person, one may be able to determine his or her primary learning style.

For example , if an autistic child enjoys looking at books, watching television,

and tends to look carefully at people and objects, then he or she may be a

visual learner (Santrock 433). Once a person?s learning style is determined,

then relying on this modality to teach can greatly increase the likelihood that

the person will learn and possibly communicate. Some people have problems with

Gardner?s theories about intelligence (Traub 3). Many say that there is no

concrete research behind Gardner?s ideas (Traub 5). The problem may lie in the

term ?intelligence? (Traub 3). Intelligence is not often viewed as a

concept, but as a measurement, a term of value. (Traub 3). Gardner says that his

use of the word ?intelligence? (Traub 3) is intentional. He chose to

challenge the traditional view of the concept of intelligence. There are many

different avenues available to help people discover their own learning style and

assess their intelligence. Mainly there are questionnaires to help assess the

way that people process information. Looking through a few of the assessment

which can be found easily online, I found that they are pretty standard. They

call for you to check statements that you find are true about yourself. These

statements are then put into their appropriate ?intelligence? (Traub 3)

category. The category with the most true statements is ranked as your strongest

intelligence. Each of the other intelligence?s are put in order accordingly.

As teachers, we can quickly assess our students at the beginning of the school

year by performing a similar inventory. We can take the statements and re word

them so that they appeal to a younger audience. We can also assign activities

and let our children choose how they are going to present them. A fun activity

that is often used is ?What I did over summer vacation?. The children are

asked to present what they did over summer vacation. They are able to present

this any way they like and are given suggestions such as ?Write a song about

your summer vacation? for the musical learner; ?perform a skit about your

Summer vacation? for the ?body kinesthetic? (Gardner 12) learner; and

?tell us what you learned about yourself over your Summer vacation? for the

intrapersonal learner. Getting to know the learning styles of the children in

your classroom at the beginning of the year will help you to plan your

curriculum effectively for the rest of the year. Knowing about learning styles

and multiple intelligence is helpful for everyone, especially for people with

learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder. Although there is not

concrete research to back up Gardner?s theories; we know that using learning

styles in the classrooms is working. Knowing your own learning style and the

learning styles of your students will help to develop coping strategies,

compensate for weaknesses, and capitalize strengths. It is every teacher?s

duty to make the learning process a pleasurable one for all students; becoming

familiar with the different learning styles will help us to do just that.

Gardner, Howard. Frames of Mind. New York: Basic Books, 1988 Santrock, John.

Child Development. McGraw-Hill, 1998 Special Report on Dudley Moore. Channel

Seven News, ABC Network. Nov. 1999 Traub, James. ?Multiple Intelligence

Disorder?. The New Republic (1998). 5 pgs. 24 November 1999

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